Dodgers 2024 offseason plans already being telegraphed with Roki Sasaki

World Baseball Classic Semifinals: Mexico v Japan
World Baseball Classic Semifinals: Mexico v Japan / Eric Espada/GettyImages

If the reception for them in Seoul was any indication, the Dodgers are heavily favored by their not-so-close neighbors across the Pacific. Despite KBO star Ha-Seong Kim being heralded as a hometown hero (and playing in his former stadium, no less), the crowd at the Seoul Series featured a pretty even split between Padres and Dodgers gear.

Only a few days after the Dodgers returned to the States, multiple reports said that the Dodgers and Cubs had been privately informed they'd be starting their 2025 seasons in Tokyo, marking homecomings for Shohei Ohtani, Yoshinobu Yamamoto, Seiya Suzuki, and Shōta Imanaga. It was a bit of a no-brainer, given the market that the first two in particular have unleashed in Japan.

Outside of the eager fanbase, the Dodgers have unlocked another key aspect of Japanese baseball: their star players. Yamamoto and Imanaga were just a few among the crop of NPB players to make their transitions to MLB this year, signaling what seems like just the beginning of a massive, resurgent wave of Japanese players coming over to the States.

Roki Sasaki, who you might have gotten to know during the World Baseball Classic last year, will be at the forefront of that wave. With a career 2.00 ERA, two All-Star appearances, a perfect game, and an NPB record 19 strikeouts in a single game already under his belt, teams are sure to fall all over themselves to recruit him as soon as he can come to MLB.

Per Bob Nightengale, the Dodgers already have a leg up there. Despite a reported seven teams already scouting Sasaki, Nightengale says that "several GMs" believe he already has plans to join LA.

Dodgers Rumors: NPB star Roki Sasaki is already planning on joining Dodgers when he comes to MLB

Sasaki's arrival in MLB won't be without complications; due to international posting rules, he won't be eligible to be signed as anything other than an amateur free agent until he's 25, which will severely limit the money he'll make and, accordingly, the money the Chiba Lotte Marines will recoup by letting him go. Sasaki dragged his feet on re-signing with the team this season, and rumor had it that the delay was because of disagreements on his posting timeline. He did acquiesce and signed for another year, but it seems that he's getting ready to make the move when the season is up.

The Dodgers have a standing relationship with Sasaki that dates back to his high school playing days. Andrew Friedman has been spotted watching him pitch in Japan, and the Dodgers have gone to great lengths to send Asia-based scouts to keep a close eye on him. There's all of that on top of the fact that LA already has the two biggest players to ever come out of Japan.

At this point, it'll be more surprising if Sasaki doesn't come to LA next season, or whenever the Marines do choose to let him go. It already seems like the Dodgers have another brand-new ace on lock for the offseason, and one they'll be able to get at a discount, at that.